News & Analysis

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    SpaceX, Boeing Win NASA Contracts Worth Nearly $7 Billion

    “NASA announced Tuesday that SpaceX and Boeing snagged contracts worth nearly $7 billion to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts will allow the agency to end its reliance on Russia, which has transported America’s astronauts on a per-seat basis since NASA retired its space shuttles several years ago.” – Re/Code
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    Whatever happened to the public stock tech-bubble talk?

    Remember all that talk about a tech bubble last spring? Remember the tech slump that followed, knocking stocks like Facebook and Netflix into double-digit declines over a matter of weeks? It all seems like a distant memory now, even though it fanned the flames under a lot of debates back then. Since then, investors in publicly traded tech companies have enjoyed a quieter summer of contentment. Since mid-May, Facebook has risen 30 percent percent, LinkedIn 49 percent…
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    Workpop is not your father’s job site

    Chris Ovitz has daddy issues. He wouldn’t admit as much himself, of course, or at least not to a journalist, but you only have to spend ten minutes with him, or thirty seconds thinking about his new startup, Workpop, to figure out what’s going on. Tale as old as time: The son of a famous father doing everything he can to chart his own course, be his own man. Ovitz is the son of former CAA kingpin and…
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    Gurley and Wilson point to sky high burn rates, not valuations as the red flag in Silicon Valley

    Silicon Valley is no stranger to cries of “bubble!” and the usually accompanying concerns over crazy valuations. But these claims come more often from outside the industry – the media, Wall Street, and internet commenters – rather than via introspection by investors and entrepreneurs living within the echo chamber. In a departure from this well worn pattern, this week has seen a discussion by two of the country’s most prominent venture capitalists, Benchmark’s Bill Gurley (who is an investor in Ebay,…
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    Olive Garden servers have one of the toughest jobs in the industry. Trust me — I used to be one.

    As if recovering from an August full of bad news, social media has finally turned its attention in September back to far more trivial matters — namely, the pseudo-Italian restaurant chain Olive Garden. Like with Taco Bell, I’m fascinated by Olive Garden and its viral pull on the social media masses. There’s something that speaks to our experience as Americans about a glorified fast food chain selling unlimited amounts of overpriced pasta and breadsticks and calling it “Italian food.” Depending on your perspective, it’s either capitalism’s greatest achievement or proof…
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    Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar unite in information warfare against “Big Taxi” with new TaxiFacts website

    Uber, Lyft, and, to a lesser extent, Sidecar are bitter rivals who have proven willing to do anything in their power to discredit or poach riders and drivers from one another in pursuit of dominance in the future of transportation market. But, it seems the upstart disruptors are willing to put this hatred aside for the greater good of combatting their shared rivals: “Big Taxi” (the taxi and limousine industry). Uber, along with the Internet Association (of which both Uber and…
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    German judge lifts Uber ban because of the taxi industry’s laziness

    The Frankfurt Regional Court in Germany has ended the temporary injunction issued against Uber earlier this month because taxi companies in the country waited too long to request it, according to Deutsche Welle. The injunction was originally issued at the beginning of September because Uber’s drivers were operating without the proper licenses, according to the initial report from Der Spiegel, and the court ruled that Uber would have to halt its German operations or pay a fine of up…
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    Hackers make the case for trusting Amazon’s and Apple’s “walled gardens”

    If there’s anything a small segment of the tech-using population hates, it’s being forced to shop from a single marketplace. These people whine about “walled gardens” and “the tight shackles of modern consumerism” and other such malarkey. Often, they find ways to avoid these restrictions on where they can shop around for applications, videos, games, and many other digital goods. Sometimes this works out fine. If people are careful about who they trust, there’s nothing wrong with finding something from an unsanctioned…
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    Tim Cook’s defense of Apple’s privacy is incomplete at best

    It’s hard to imagine the mental acrobatics required to defend your company’s data practices after just announcing it would start using your thumbprint in many applications and allow you to add your credit card information to its new payment service. But that’s exactly what Apple chief executive Tim Cook did in the second part of his interview with Charlie Rose. Here’s what Cook said about data collection — an especially important topic for Apple given its recent security…
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    vArmour reveals the stealthy details of its dynamic and distributed data center security solution

    In the world of cyber-security stealth can be an asset to both attackers and those companies trying to defend corporate networks and underlying data. It’s with this in mind that vArmour has spent the last three years building out its data center security product and signing up marquee enterprise clients around the world without revealing much of anything in terms of details about its solution to the general public. The company also managed to pull in $42 million…
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    Mail.ru acquires remaining stock in VKontakte for $1.47B

    The Mail.ru Group, which owned some 52 percent of “Russian Facebook” VKontakte, today announced that it has acquired all remaining stock in the company for $1.47 billion. The company plans to “fully consolidate” VKontakte into the fold. [Source: Mail.ru]
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    What’s In A Name?: Meet the name doctor of HAXLR8R

    As the founder of HAXLR8R, a Shenzhen based accelerator for hardware startups, Cyril Ebersweiler often finds himself in the trenches with young founders working with them to fix a horrible product name, or find a name that better fits a particular product. Name doctoring is a team wide enterprise, Ebersweiler says, that involves a complicated six part scoring system and analysis of the different spheres of the brain. At “Hax” as Ebersweiler calls it in conversation, freely laughing that the…
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    Why the outrage over Apple’s U2 stunt is good news for the future of music

    Last week, amid the frenzy over new iPhones and smartwatches, Wired’s Mat Honan wrote a truly excellent requiem for the humble iPod. While reading it I felt like I was 19 again, using birthday money and cash from a summer job to buy my first Apple-adorned mp3 player (it was a 3rd generation). I remember experiencing that “new Apple smell” for the first time, wondering how a $300 device barely came with any instructions, and acclimating myself to the oddly soothing “click-click-click” that would…
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    “We the people want our money safer than our selfies.” PayPal goes after Apple in a full page NYT ad

    As the rumors of an Apple payments platform swirled leading up to last week’s keynote, plenty of smart people asked whether the world’s most valuable company was about to kill eBay’s generation one online payments subsidiary PayPal. When the details of the Pay (Apple Pay) product emerged, those cries only grew louder, including here on Pando (although I’d argue we’ve taken a more measured perspective than most on this mounting competition). But while Apple Pay surely has PayPal’s attention,…
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    Greenwald in New Zealand: Grandstanding doesn’t get more condescending or counter-productive

    As an expat-New Zealander anticipating a coming election Friday US time, I was a little caught off my guard to see Glenn Greenwald parachute into the middle of our little campaign promising massive new revelations. Greenwald was there as a guest of German-born Mega and Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who remains in New Zealand using his residency as a shield from extradition to the United States to avoid federal indictments for online piracy, racketeering, and conspiracy to commit…
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The Week in Review